Myth vs. reality on post-Labor Day school start date — Hogan’s office responds

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The governor’s office put out this unusual direct response to criticism found in news stories of Gov. Larry Hogan’s order to begin the school year in 2017 after Labor Day. Here it is word for word.


Cecil County Board Of Education President Dawn Branch Stated That “Only A Small Minority Of People” Have Asked For A Post-Labor Day School Start Date.

“In Cecil County, only a small minority of people have ever asked the school board for a post-Labor Day start, she added…” (Jessica Iannetta, “Gov. Hogan Mandates Post-Labor Day Start For Schools,” Cecil Whig, 8/31/16)


Polls Show That The Overwhelming Majority Of Marylanders – 72% – Support Starting School After Labor Day.

“Residents continue to support Comptroller Peter Franchot’s ‘Let Summer Be Summer’ initiative. Seventy-two percent support a statewide mandate requiring schools to start after the Labor Day holiday; 19 percent oppose it.” (“Goucher Poll Releases Results On Politician Approval Ratings, Local Presidential Hopefuls, Transportation, Vaccines, And The Environment,” Goucher Poll, 2/25/15)


Baltimore County Schools Superintendent Dallas Dance: “Many Of Us Are Trying To Think About ‘How Do We Give Our Kids More Time In School?’”(Erin Cox, and Liz Bowie, “Hogan Orders Maryland Public Schools To Start After Labor Day, Sparking Political Fight,” The Baltimore Sun, 8/31/16)


The Executive Order Makes No Change To The Number Of School Days Required. Under The Executive Order Students Will Attend Class For 180 Days; Prior To The Executive Order Students Attended Class For 180 Days. 

State law requires 180 school days each year: “Except as provided in subsections (b), (e), and (f) of this section, each public school under the jurisdiction of a  county board: Shall be open for pupil attendance for at least 180 actual school days and a minimum of 1,080 school hours during a 10-month period in each school year…” (“Code Of Maryland: Education Article,” Maryland General Assembly, Accessed: 9/1/16)   


Montgomery County Board Of Education President Michael Durso: Governor Hogan’s Action “Ignores Critical Issues Faced By Schools And The Potential Negative Instructional Impact On Students.” (Josh Hicks, “Hogan Orders Md. Schools To Start After Labor Day Beginning Next Year,” The Washington Post, 8/31/16)


A Non-Partisan Task Force Of Teachers, Administrators, School Board Members, PTA Members, And Legislators, Commissioned By The Previous Administration, Determined That Students’ Education Would Not Be Impacted By Starting School After Labor Day.

“Determined that there was no compelling evidence that showed there was any impact on education starting post-Labor Day… there was no quantifiable evidence that a post-Labor Day start is harmful to local schools systems.” (“Task Force To Study A Post-Labor Day Start Date For Maryland Public Schools,” June 2014)


The Anne Arundel County Public Schools Board Argued That By Starting School After Labor Day, Students Would Be Put At A “Disadvantage” Compared To Students Across The Nation In Regards To Standardized Testing.

“One of the biggest issues, however, involves the instructional disadvantage at which AACPS students would be placed when compared to other students across the nation.” (Press Release, “Impact Of Gov. Larry Hogan’s Executive Order On Anne Arundel County Public Schools Calendar,” Anne Arundel County Public Schools, 8/31/16)


An Extensive Study By Virginia Commonwealth University Found That Standardized Test Results For Students Who Begin School After Labor Day Do Not Suffer.

“The study examined whether students who started school before Labor Day performed better on standardized tests than those who returned to school after the holiday. Commenting on the results, McMillan said, ‘the preponderance of evidence suggests that there is no relationship between school division start date (before or after Labor Day) and student achievement.’” (Greg Ellison, “Extending Kids’ Summer Still Being Debated,” Ocean City Today, 8/25/16; James McMillan, “ SOL Test Scores And School Calendar/Teaching Days For Virginia School Divisions Receiving Waivers To Begin The School Year Prior To Labor Day,” Virginia Commonwealth University, 1/25/15)


Prince George’s County Public Schools Spokeswoman Raven Hill: “Calendar Decisions ‘Are Best Made By Local Communities, With Raising Student Achievement As The Goal, Rather Than Increasing Tourism.’” (Josh Hicks, “Hogan Orders Md. Schools To Start After Labor Day Beginning Next Year,”  The Washington Post, 8/31/16)


The Executive Order Grants Local Boards Of Education Full Ability To Set Their Own Academic Calendar; It Only Stipulates That Academic Calendars Begin After Labor Day And End On June 15th.

“That all Kindergarten through 12th grade public schools in the State of Maryland (Public Schools). Through local Boards of Education, shall open for all pupil attendance no earlier than the Tuesday immediately following the nationally-observed Labor Day holiday. That classes shall conclude and the school year for every Public School in Maryland shall adjourn no later than June 15… That each local Board of Education shall refrain full responsibility for establishing its annual academic calendar and, therefore, shall have the necessary latitude to determine how best to comply with the provisions of this Executive Order along with State and local laws.” (“Executive Order 01.01.2016.09,” Office Of The Governor, 8/31/16)


The Anne Arundel County Public Schools Board Argued That It Would Be “Mathematically Impossible” To Begin School After Labor Day And For School To End On June 15.

“A post Labor Day start and mandated June 15 finish to the school year makes it mathematically impossible to convert the required number of days needed to school days solely within the existing 2017-2018 school year calendar.” (Press Release, “Impact Of Gov. Larry Hogan’s Executive Order On Anne Arundel County Public Schools Calendar,” Anne Arundel County Public Schools, 8/31/16)


Worcester County’s 2016-2017 School Year Will Start After Labor Day And End In Mid-June.

For the 2016-2017 school year, Worcester County Public Schools commence on September 6th and end on June 16th. The school system takes the following days off: Oct. 21 – MSEA Conference, Nov. 8 – Professional Day/Election Day, Nov. 11 – Professional Day/Veterans Day, Nov. 23-25 – Thanksgiving Break, Dec. 22 – Jan 2: Winter Break,  Jan 16 – Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Feb. 3 – Professional Day, Feb. 20 – Presidents Day, Apr. 13 – Professional Day, Apr. 14-17 – Spring Break, May 29 – Memorial Day. (“Calendar,” Worcester County Board Of Education, Accessed: 9/1/16)

  • Rudy

    Gov Hogan is displaying a total disregard towards school system leadership and community needs. The school calendar belongs in the hands of the people who live with it. Most school systems build a 184 or 185 school calendar to account for weather emergencies. In addition, Systems identify contingency days so when the number of emergency days exceed 4 days, the contingency days kick in. If you look at the data over a 10 year period, you would know that there were several years when the number of emergency closings exceeded 4 or 5 days. It’s simple arithmatic.

  • Sam D

    The intellectual dishonesty coming from Governor Hogan’s office here is incredible. They are intentionally discussing only the text of the executive order and not its real implications. How about this:

    MYTH: Students will still go to school for 180 days under this policy change.

    REALITY: While the number of required days does not technically change, the condensing of the school year gives School Boards less room to account for emergency/snow days, meaning it is more likely that they will apply for waivers on the 180 day requirement.

    MYTH: This executive order does not impact a county’s ability to make their own school schedule.

    REALITY: This executive order severely restricts the ability of individual School Boards to have schools closed on Jewish holidays or other days with historically low attendance, as well as impacting their ability to have professional days for teachers.

    I have to hand it to the governor’s team for spinning this well, but to those of us who are paying attention, this press release is insulting to our intelligence.

  • Tom65

    “Worcester County’s 2016-2017 School Year Will Start After Labor Day And End In Mid-June.”

    Notice that Worcester County doesn’t have days off for Rosh Hashsana and Yom Kippur, which most central MD counties do, due to their larger Jewish population. This is precisely why the schedule should be set by county school boards and not at the whim of the Governor and his financial backers.

    Also notice how many “myths” in this article are put forth by local school boards – they very ones Hogan is bypassing. Obviously the Governor has no regard for local control or authority.

  • Mark1016

    I really wish people would read an entire article before commenting. This executive order came from the work done by a BI-PARTISAN commission begun under the last administration. School boards have full authority to design their own calendars between the Tuesday after Labor Day and June 15.

    Maybe it will be that the Jews will no longer have specific religious days built in the calendar. With the number of nationalities and religions now residing in Maryland, it may not be feasible to give specific religions days off. Maybe the number of professional days will have to be reduced in the next union contract. Every year people comment about how the kids are out of school so much during the first two months of the school year. It may be time to reevaluate this.

  • lenlazarick

    Delegate Eric Luedtke posted this response on Facebook:
    A kind of long point by point rebuttal to Governor Hogan’s point by point rebuttal in for your reading pleasure:

    1. One poll is not ‘polls’. And asking people if they want kids to have a longer summer without explaining the consequences would be like me asking my son if he wants to live on a diet of Sour Patch Kids without explaining what cavities are.

    2. The number of days in school matters (and many countries we compete with have longer school years), but the separation between those days matters too. Kids forget stuff over the summer. Particularly kids whose families can’t afford to hire tutors or send them to expensive summer camps. Saying ‘there will still be 180 days’ ignores that problem completely.

    3. The Task Force was stacked with people who already supported a post-Labor Day start before their first meeting. No surprise then that their report said what it did. Also, the report cites a single report in its data – just one, from Salisbury University, the closest University to Ocean City – and a couple dozen newspaper articles. Not exactly the kind of peer reviewed academic studies we should be considering.

    4. Again, in arguing against the summer brain drain, the Governor cites only one article. There are literally dozens that say longer summers do have an impact on student learning, particularly for poor and minority kids. The consensus of researchers is clear. Oh, and the one article he cites? It was funded by the Virginia Hospitality and Travelers Association.

    5. The Governor is saying in the same sentence that school systems still have flexibility in their calendars but ‘only stipulates’ that schools have to start after Labor Day and end before June 15th. So they have flexibility except that they don’t. This also conveniently ignores that state law already mandates certain days off.

    6. And finally, they cite the fact that Worcester County starts after Labor Day as a reason why it’s doable. Just one example of why Worcester County is different from other jurisdictions: they don’t take the Jewish holidays off, like many central Maryland jurisdictions do. Probably because there isn’t as large a Jewish population in Ocean City as there is in Pikesville and Bethesda. Which raises exactly the reason local control matters. So I guess Governor Hogan is advocating that school shouldn’t be off for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur?

  • Lisa

    When I went to school we always started after Labor Day. I didn’t have parents that worked with me or sent me to a fancy camp. I still did fine. Maybe if the school system actually taught kids these days instead of pushing them through to satisfy a standardized test maybe kids would be learning more. And before anyone goes off on me about that statement…. I dealt with public schools that didn’t give my son help so he could learn. I had meeting after meeting until it became do frustrating that I finally pulled him out & home schooled him. Guess what he did better than a lot if kids in the public school. I know first year teachers & established teachers who say they have kids in their classes that don’t get it but told you have to just keep going it will come around again. So it really doesn’t matter the date the kids start its still going to be the same. I do know a lot of parents personally that had wished that school didn’t start until after Labor Day. Not all parents want to pawn their kids off on someone else. As far as the Jewish communities in Baltimore & Damascus….the majority of Jewish kids go to a Jewish school which is private not public. I filled in my grandson’s school closings in my calendar & there are so many days they are off not for holidays but for “professional days”. So the issue is not that the students aren’t going to learn its the school system isn’t going to have do many days off. And maybe if the schools wouldn’t close for every little drop if snow there wouldn’t be so many snow days off. Kids have been off for possible snow & it never snowed a drop. 180 days is 180 days no matter when it starts.

    • sarahstraus

      Really? The majority of Jewish kids go to Jewish schools? Kindly cite your source. I call bulls$&@.

    • lowtechcyclist

      And when I was in elementary school, the dads all went to work, and the moms all stayed home and took care of the house and kids.

      It’s not 1962 any more, though. In most 2-parent households, both parents work. And Lord help single parents!

      I’m in Calvert County. Our summers last 9-10 weeks (more than enough family time, you’d think!), which our governor would turn into 11.

      Eight weeks of the vacation aren’t too bad. Calvert Parks and Rec runs a very good summer day camp for the first six weeks of the summer, and we take a 2-week family vacation during August.

      That still leaves a week or two (now), which will become three weeks, thanks to Governor Hogan. And this is already the hardest part of the year for us. The day camp options available in August either have very short hours relative to our work day, or they involve a lot of extra driving on roads like the Beltway and U.S. 50.

      During this part of the summer, my wife and I already hardly see one another, and we spend way less time with our son, now in the fourth grade, than we otherwise do. (Pro-family, you betcha.) It’s hard enough to get through a week or two like this. But Governor Hogan knows what’s best for us – he wants our family life to totally suck for three weeks, instead of just one or two.

      Gov. Hogan would do us all a favor if he’d take his executive order and shred it into tiny pieces. Since he’s not likely to, here’s hoping our legislators do that instead. And if it comes to that, I will urge the Calvert County Board of Ed to defy the governor, and dare him to do anything about it.

      • lowtechcyclist

        And I do hope Governor Hogan or the state legislature is intending to hold hearings on this order – which the governor damned well should have done before implementing this order – because I’m ready to show up and give him an earful.

  • massysett

    Dumb to see the governor wasting so much oxygen on this dumb issue, all to help some coastal businesses. Since the school year will stay the same length I can’t get too upset about the way the governor is using school children as political pawns.